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Malaysia Arrests Renegade Philippine Governor - 2001-11-24

Malaysian police have arrested the renegade governor of the Muslim autonomous region in the southern Philippines, Nur Misuari. Mr. Misuari tried to flee to Malaysia, after his supporters attacked government troops in the southern Philippines this week.

Muslim independence fighter, Nur Misuari, together with six of his supporters were arrested in the early hours of Saturday morning, on an island off Malaysia's Sabah State.

Mr. Misuari was wanted by Philippine authorities for allegedly instigating a fresh uprising in the southern Philippines, which left more than 150 dead in the past week.

Mr. Misuari, leader of the Moro National Liberation Front, or MNLF, in the southern region of Mindanao, was appointed governor in 1996, as part of a peace agreement between the Muslim separatists and the Philippine government.

Malaysian police inspector general, Tan Sri Norian Mai, said Mr. Misuari and his supporters entered Malaysia illegally by way of Jolo Island in the Southern Philippines.

Security in the border regions between Malaysia and the Philippines had been stepped up following the latest fighting in Mindanao.

The violence in the southern Philippines broke out last Monday, when Mr. Misuari's followers attacked Jolo military outposts. The outbreak occurred after a 15-member MNLF executive council ousted Mr. Misuari. Elections for a new governor of the Muslim autonomous region are to be held on Monday.

In recent days, Mr. Misurai had sought political asylum in Malaysia. But Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said Saturday his country would not provide a haven for him.

Philippine President, Gloria Arroyo, who has backed Parouk Hussin, a rival to Mr. Misuari in the upcoming election, had vowed to hunt down Mr. Misuari's group. President Arroyo also accused Mr. Misuari of mismanagement of the region while governor.

President Arroyo praised Malaysia for the swift arrest of Mr. Misuari. Philippine officials say they will discuss his extradition to the Philippines with Malaysian authorities.